Category: the good

Keir Giles : Ten “Don’ts” For Dealing With Russia

Abstracted from a twitter thread by Keir Giles [ @KeirGiles ]

From his book : “Moscow Rules: What Drives Russia To Confront The West” – available at: amzn.to/2SKa8ND (US) and amzn.to/2Qw9dyo (UK and Europe).

KEIR GILES’ work has appeared in a wide range of academic and military publications across Europe and in North America, and he is a regular contributor and commentator on Russian affairs for international print and broadcast media. He is a Senior Consulting Fellow at the UK’s Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), and also works with the Conflict Studies Research Centre (CSRC), a group of deep subject matter experts on Eurasian security formerly attached to the British Ministry of Defence. He is a regular contributor to research projects on Russian security issues in the U.S., UK and Europe.

Ten “Don’ts” For Dealing With Russia

1. Don’t say “they wouldn’t do that, it doesn’t make sense”.

Abandon any assumptions about what Russia might do that are based on what a Western liberal democracy would consider rational. Russia‘s decision-making framework is bounded by an entirely different understanding of history, geography, social policy and relations between countries from that of the West. To understand the choices open to Moscow, it is critically important to see the world through a Russian lens, rather than be guided by what “makes sense” in Washington or Brussels.

2. Don’t confuse understanding Russia with excusing Russia.

Russia is guided by its own distinctive sense of historical imperatives, and consequently an enduring sense of privilege to disregard commonly accepted norms of behaviour. But the conviction with which these views are expressed does not necessarily make them right, or provide an excuse when they are acted on in ways the West finds repugnant.

3. Don’t ask binary questions.

Don’t ask about Russia “is it either this or that”, “either yes or no”. The answer is likely to be both, at the same time, or neither, or more. Dealing with Russia necessitates being comfortable with paradoxes and contradictions, and many things spoken and written about Russia are both true and not true at the same time, Consequently, when you ask “why does Russia do X”. don‘t look for just one answer There will be several reasons, some of which will overlap and some of which will contradict each other.

4. Don’t be distracted by bluster, bravado and bluff.

Just because Russia makes a lot of angry noise about your plans or proposals doesn’t mean Moscow will not be prepared to live with them when they are implemented. Russia defaults to threats and feigned outrage in order to improve its negotiating position, because the West’s responses show that this sometimes works. Listen instead for changes in tone that indicate real concerns.

5. Don’t forget that Russia does not consist of just one man.

The current leader in the Kremlin at any one time is not the problem if he is driven by persistent Russian beliefs and imperatives. The country and its leaders respond to internal and external challenges in ways that remain consistent over centuries; course corrections that accompany a change of leadership tend to be temporary aberrations.

6. Don’t just hope for “change”.

Change in Russia is rarely as deep as it appears, and certainly not always for the better; so it is dangerous to assume that political change in Russia is desirable because it will necessarily be an improvement. Russia’s current behaviour towards other countries and its own citizens is reprehensible. But by historical standards, Russia is still in a period of unprecedented liberalism. It would be hard for things to get better, but it would be very easy for things to get far, far worse.

7. Don’t expect Russia to respect values and standards that were invented elsewhere.

You can’t embarrass Russia over its behaviour at times when it places no value on its reputation. “Naming and shaming” has limited effect: it is important to “name” by continuing to call attention to Russian actions and holding Moscow to account for them, but do not expect Russia to feel the “shame”. What western liberal democracies think, or believe, or would like to happen is not a deciding criterion when Russia considers which course of action to choose.

8. Don’t hope to appeal to Russia’s better nature.

Russia sees compromise and cooperation, with no evident and immediate benefit to state or leadership interests, as unnatural and deeply suspicious. This places strict limits on the potential for working with Moscow even on what may appear to be shared challenges.

9. Don’t assume that there must be common ground.

It’s natural to search for these shared challenges. assuming there must be some way we can work with Russia on mutual interests. But there is a reason this search does not bring results, despite being conducted intensively throughout the almost three decades since the end of the USSR. Whenever it appears that Russia and the West could work together on a problem, it quickly becomes clear that not only Moscow‘s understanding of the issue, but also its preferred solution and the methods it would favour to deliver it are entirely incompatible with Western norms, values and even laws.

10. Don’t think that you can choose whether to be at war with Russia or not.

Sometimes de-escalation, taken to its logical conclusion, equates to surrender. At the same time, Russia will never be “at peace” with you. Normal relations with Russia include fending off a wide range of hostile actions from Moscow; this is the default state throughout history, and Western nations should by now be realising this is the norm.

Jing Hao 荆浩 [ c. 855-915 ]

Pi-fa-chi (Notes on Brush Method)

The six essentials for landscape painting, according to the sage, are :

氣 Ch’i (life breath):
As the heart responds and the brush moves forward, forms are seized with­out hesitation.

韻 Yün (resonance and elegance):
Where forms are omitted or elaborated upon, the choice is never vulgar.

思 Si (thought):
By sorting out essentials, the painter conceives the form.

景 Jing (scenery):
By observing the laws of nature and the seasons, he searches out the sub­lime and creates a true landscape.

筆 Bi (brushwork):
Though following certain basic methods, it must move freely and know how to improvise. It must not be too solid or assume too definite a form; it must look as if in flight and constant motion.

墨 Mo (ink wash):
High and low peaks are described by a light ink wash, which also makes objects stand out clearly either in shallow or deep recession. The drawing and ink wash are so natural that they do not seem to be made by a brush.

 

Wintry Forests and Layered Banks
Hanging scroll on silk, attributed to Dong Yuan 董源 [ c. 934 – 962 ]
Kurokawa Foundation    |    Hyogo    |    Japan

on Anaxaminder [ circa 570 BCE ]

Anaximander claimed that the cosmic order is not monarchic but geometric, and that this causes the equilibrium of the earth, which is lying in the centre of the universe. This is the projection on nature of a new political order and a new space organized around a centre which is the static point of the system in the society as in nature (1). In this space there is isonomy (equal rights) and all the forces are symmetrical and transferable. The decisions are now taken by the assembly of demos in the agora which is lying in the middle of the city (2).

1. C. Mosse (1984) La Grece archaique d’Homere a Eschyle. Edition du Seuil. p 235
2. J. P. Vernart (1982) Les origins de la pensee grecque. PUF Pariw. p 128, J. P. Vernart (1982) The origins of the Greek thought. Cornell University Press.

wikipedia
Peplos Kore    |    circa 530 BCE    |    Parian marble    |    height : 120 cm    |    Acropolis Museum  Athens

Quantifying national responsibility for climate breakdown

 

Interpretation : These figures indicate that high-income countries have a greater degree of responsibility for climate damages than previous methods have implied. These results offer a just framework for attributing national responsibility for excess emissions, and a guide for determining national liability for damages related to climate change, consistent with the principles of planetary boundaries and equal access to atmospheric commons.

thanks to @jasonhickel

La Via Campesina North America

This powerful exposé of United Nations Food Systems Summit shows how UN Secretary General António Guterres is consolidating a corporate takeover of the UN system, through partnerships with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and billionaires behind the ‘Great Reset’. La Via Campesina North America and journalist Camila Escalante unveil the role of megaphilanthropy and even his royal highness Prince Charles in trying to displace peasant agriculture. Following the stunning failure of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), its president, Agnes Kalibata, was repurposed to head the Summit. On September 23rd, the Summit will occur virtually and without the participation of LVC, as peasant organizations and popular movements across the world reject corporate control over food governance. Only redistributive land reform, agroecology, and food sovereignty can ensure healthy and just food systems for all, as stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants.

Analysis of the Middle and the Extremes

English translation of the text Analysis of the Middle and the Extremes. From the Chinese translation of the Madhyāntavibhāga-bhāṣya from Sanskrit by Xuanzang 玄奘 (602–664). Part of the BDK English Tripiṭaka Series.

Xuanzang’s disciple Ji 基 (632–682, also known as Kuiji 窺基), gives the following explanation in his commentary on this work:

Nine hundred years after the Buddha passed away, the bodhisattva Asaṅga was born into the world. He went to Maitreya to request a teaching on the great śāstra, the circumstances of which are as explained elsewhere. Maitreya taught the verses (kārikā) of this śāstra, called the “Verses Analyzing the Middle and Extremes,” which Asaṅga received and subsequently passed onto Vasubandhu to have them explained in detail. Hence, this prose was produced by Vasubandhu, called Śāstra Analyzing the Middle and Extremes (Madhyānta- vibhāga-bhāṣya).

 

Degrowth

…. We can take this observation one step further. It is important to recognize that the word ‘growth’ has
become a kind of propaganda term. In reality, what is going on is a process of elite accumulation, the
commodification of commons, and the appropriation of human labour and natural resources — a process
that is quite often colonial in character. This process, which is generally destructive to human commu-
nities and to ecology, is glossed as growth. Growth sounds natural and positive (who could possibly be
against growth?) so people are easily persuaded to buy into it, and to back policies that will generate more
of it, when otherwise they might not. Growth is the ideology of capitalism, in the Gramscian sense. It is
the core tenet of capitalism’s cultural hegemony. The word degrowth is powerful and effective because it
identifies this trick, and rejects it. Degrowth calls for the reversal of the processes that lie behind growth: it
calls for disaccumulation, decommodification, and decolonization.

Jason Hickel    |    @jasonhickel

Noam Chomsky

“Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilization has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits in the classic formulation.

Now, it’s long been understood very well that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist with whatever suffering and injustice it entails as long as it’s possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited: that the world is an infinite resource, and that the world is an infinite garbage-can. At this stage of history, either one of two things is possible: either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community-interests, guided by values of solidarity and sympathy and concern for others; or, alternatively, there will be no destiny for anyone to control.

As long as some specialized class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole and, by now, that means the global community. The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass-communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely, to impose necessary illusions, manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena. The question, in brief, is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved or threats to he avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival.”

Noam Chomsky

Progressive International

 

In December 2018, the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25) and the Sanders Institute issued an open call to all progressive forces to form a common front.”It is time for progressives of the world to unite. The Progressive International takes up that call. We unite, organize, and mobilize progressive forces behind a shared vision of a world transformed.”

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join

  • Democratic, where all people have the power to shape their institutions and their societies.
  • Decolonized, where all nations determine their collective destiny free from oppression.
  • Just, that redresses inequality in our societies and the legacy of our shared history.
  • Egalitarian, that serves the interests of the many, and never the few.
  • Liberated, where all identities enjoy equal rights, recognition, and power.
  • Solidaristic, where the struggle of each is the struggle of all.
  • Sustainable, that respects planetary boundaries and protects frontline communities
  • Ecological, that brings human society into harmony with its habitat.
  • Peaceful, where the violence of war is replaced by the diplomacy of peoples.
  • Post-capitalist, that rewards all forms of labour while abolishing the cult of work.
  • Prosperous, that eradicates poverty and invests in a future of shared abundance.
  • Plural, where difference is celebrated as strength.

BDS

 

On May 14 and 15, we invite you to join us for events marking 72 years since the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe – the ethnic cleansing and forcible displacement of a majority of the indigenous Palestinian population by Zionist militias to make room for an exclusionary, settler-colonial state.

The Nakba continues today for Palestinians living under Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid, with the support of complicit states, corporations and institutions.

Most Palestinians exiled from their homeland still carry the keys to their beloved homes. The Palestinian refugee key has become a reminder of the Palestinian tragedy, and a symbol of the determination to ensure that our refugees can one day return.

Nakba scenes of forced displacement remind us of the experience of many millions of migrants, refugees and homeless people around the world who have no place to call home due to the devastating impacts of militarism, racism, neoliberal capitalism and the climate crisis.

Today, COVID-19 adds to the grave threats that Palestinians and other vulnerable populations worldwide already face.

Our May 14 and 15 events will commemorate the Nakba, oppose displacement and homelessness, and mobilize for return as the #KeyToJustice. Join us!

#KeyToJustice Webinar – May 14, 4 PM Palestine time: Rafeef Ziadah, Marta Ill and Rey Perez Asis will discuss the connections between the Palestinian struggle to end the ongoing Nakba and the struggles of millions of refugees, migrants and those struggling for adequate housing worldwide, particularly during the pandemic.

#KeyToJustice Global Action – May 15: Share a photo of yourself on social media holding a key, and tag your post with #KeyToJustice. Learn how to make a key at home with this do-it-yourself video. The key symbolizes not just Palestinian refugees’ return, but the connectedness of our struggles for equality, dignity and freedom, for all those without homes, facing brutality and resisting erasure.

Online Nakba Day Rally – May 15, 9 PM Palestine time: With speakers and performers including DAM, Janna Jihad, Diana Buttu, Roger Waters and Ken Loach. Organized by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK), Jewish Voice for Peace (US), South African BDS Coalition, and the BDS Movement.

Our collective mobilisations will help turn the #KeyToJustice.

In solidarity,

Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)